State #50: Flight Crew Tackles Elusive Craft Beer from Kansas
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By Jim Cyphert, Mahoning Valley Flight Crew
Craft beer lovers across the Mahoning Valley have a great new option. Tallgrass Brewing Co.’s beers are now available here through Premium Beverage Supply.
The Flight Crew took Tallgrass’ beers out for a spin recently, but this was no ordinary taste test.
We’ve sampled beers from around the world – China to England, Germany to Italy, and everywhere in between. We’ve made our way around the states, too, sampling brews from Maine to Maui.
But, one state had eluded us — Kansas. Sure, we’ve had Boulevard Brewing out of Kansas City — Missouri. But, we’d yet to sample anything from The Sunflower State.
So, we did our homework. Tallgrass, in Manhattan, Kansas, was the right choice. It’s Kansas’ largest brewery, and it’s been growing rapidly since opening in 2007.
Our timing was perfect. Tallgrass began distributing in Ohio last month. We’d reached out to the brewery, and regional sales manager Shawn Gallup was ready to help us celebrate. He arranged for some swag to be sent to the Crew (six beautiful bright red t-shirts), and he stayed in touch as we prepared to try the beers.
Then, Flight Crew friend Justin Homer, owner of Casual Pint in Boardman, texted that he’d received an early shipment of Tallgrass beers. Jason Jugenheimer was in his Jeep in about three minutes flat on a mission to grab it.
According to Gallup, Tallgrass has a plan for national distribution.
“Buffalo Sweat is our flagship beer with the most volume and distribution,” Gallup said. “Ohio was the next step in our strategic growth plan. We’ve had successful launches in Indiana and Michigan the past two years. We are not planning on any other states this year with the holidays coming, but will continue our growth in the new year.”
We couldn’t drink beer from state #50 just any old time. So, we saved it for a special occasion — the Browns-Steelers 2017 season opener. Perfect! We gathered at Jason’s house for the annual wing party, and the crew was ready to take flight.
Here are our thoughts on Tallgrass' offerings:
Key Lime Pie Ale With Lime Peel (4.2% ABV)
“With all the fruity craft beers penetrating the market, I give Tallgrass big props for successfully pulling off the delicate taste of key lime pie in its craft beer. This sour blonde ale pours yellow, and you immediately pick up the tartness of the lime in its aroma. The malt backbone of this sour beer also tricks you into thinking that there’s got to be graham cracker somewhere in that can.
“Key West Florida has a traditional Key Lime Festival every July. The good people at Tallgrass Brewing would be wise to pack up a trailer filled with their Key Lime Pie cans and head to the Florida Keys...and show off their concoction.
“Well done, Tallgrass. Well done.”
Buffalo Sweat Oatmeal Cream Stout (5% ABV)
“What a way to open the football season. This oatmeal cream stout was outstanding. A perfect beer for a cool afternoon. The Buffalo Sweat is a dark black/brown pour with a nice, tan head. The aroma is a nice chocolate malt and sweet, roasted coffee. This one comes in at 5% ABV. I can see why Buffalo Sweat is Tallgrass’ flagship beer.”
Blueberry Jam Berliner Weisse (4.3% ABV)
“This was a treat to get ahold of on a beautiful September Sunday. This is the time of year I start going to heavy stouts and porters, but I’m also a sour fan. Throw in my favorite fruit for beer, and Tallgrass has a recipe for a great-drinking sour. The aroma out of the can creates a sense of fresh blueberries and allows you to continue tasting blueberries through your nose on your first sip.
"It’s a sour, for sure, but is a little more mellow, mixing tart and sweet. It pours a nice copper color and finish light without the lingering tartness that some sours leave. Overall it’s an excellent warm afternoon beer, no matter what month it is.”
8-Bit Pale Ale (5.2% ABV)
“8-Bit Pale Ale comes to us carrying an ABV of 5.2%. Just prior to canning, it’s run through the Hop Rocket, which infuses this American Pale Ale with an extra blast of hop flavor. That being said, this brew is exceptionally well balanced and easy on the palate. Enough hoppiness for the hop heads, but smooth enough for any craft beer enthusiast.”
Raspberry Jam Berliner Weisse (4.3% ABV)
“This Berliner Weisse definitely had the sweet fragrance of raspberries as the can was opened, however it was very balanced, both sweet and tart...not quite enough to really call it sour. So, if you’re not a fan of raspberry syrup, well, this seasonal may not be as satisfying as some of tall grasses other delicious sours.”
The Bottom Line: Kansas was worth the wait. The Flight Crew wishes Tallgrass well in its mission to distribute beer nationwide. Craft beer lovers across the U.S. will enjoy what Tallgrass has to offer.